As we know that there are plenty for the taking, but this is perhaps – as far as I know and hopefully true – Jason’s most obsessed of all perverse Japanese creations, the menchi katsu.

Menchi, meaning “minced”, and katsu, is anything “breaded and fried”.

It exists in many different forms and spirits, each and one of them equally bizarre to the conventional wisdoms of the west, but one in particular, the menchi katsu sando / fried ground pork patty sandwich, will send many scratching their heads inside a Japanese convenience store.  That is because its pure genius can only be realized upon one fateful encounter – one that reflects truly on its seemly simple but in fact, delicate preparations, and the childish yet complex satisfaction it plays on your tastebuds – which, unfortunately, can be a rare occurrence outside of Japan.  Actually, outside of Japan, this idea sounds more desperate than anything else.  Why do we want to fry a disk of ground pork – by the way, an almost comically massive disk of ground pork – then leave it with nothing else, and I mean absolutely nothing else, but just some tangy brown sauce in between two pieces of flimsy, flappy white breads?  You’ll question its painful simplicity, whether is from desperation, or, by choice.  Why not add something else to it?  Tomato?  Bacon?  Cheese?  Fried egg?  Jalapeno?  Two hotdogs and a jug of Bloody Mary with a mini umbrella?  Come on, anything, anything to satisfy this North American instinct to pile shit up.

But no.

I can’t explain it to you.  You’ll have to experience it.

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But I can’t take you to Japan.  I can only bring the recipe home.

This recipe is my very controlled but slightly adapted, and perhaps,, in my opinion, enhanced version of the original.  And when I say that, I’m mostly referring to the katsu sauce.  Slight variations on this sauce are applied to a vast number of different dishes in Japan, like okonomiyaki and takoyaki to name a few.  But most of the recipe in English that I found online is, well, lacking, if not insulting.  Ketchup plus worchestire sauce, basically, with some soy sauce and sugar?  Please.  The sauce is much more complex and deserving of our respect than that, which requires several different angles of acidity and sweetness that adds up to be more than the sum of its parts.  There is a depth that, I feel, cannot be achieve with the conventional balance between vinegar and sugar, which is where “fruitiness” comes in aid.  Prunes.  Blended into the sauce, they built volume and flavours into the back-note, then pounded and added as a thin film in between the sandwich, they added textures and subtle sweetness.  This sauce plays brilliantly with the fatty richness – 35% fat if I failed to mention – of the menchi katsu, and brought both a voluptuous sort of moisture and adhesiveness to all parties.

You’ll realize why you don’t want to do anything else to it.  It hits juuust the right spot, one of the few left within our hyper-stimulated minds these days, where still accepts or even craves purity.

This is not just a slapped-on emergency sustenance.  There are thoughts and wisdoms, upon many generations, that evolved and stripped it down to its now, brilliant plainness.  If you are going to make it into a Big Mac, at least call it something else.


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Yield: 2 sandwichs

You can use the katsu sauce also for takoyaki and okonomiyaki.


  • 1/4 cup finely minced onions
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 8~9 (85 grams) pitted prunes
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 cup +2 tbsp (90 grams) water
  • 1/4 cup (60 grams) balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup (60 grams) mirin/Japanese sweet rice wine
  • 3 tbsp (51 grams) tomato paste
  • 3 tbsp (45 grams) soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp (32 grams) yellow mustard
  • 1 tbsp (15 grams) worchestire sauce
  • 2 tsp light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 + 1/8 tsp ground allspice
  • a pinch of ground clove and ground cumin
  • 16 oz (460 grams) ground pork, preferably 30~35% fat
  • 1/3 cup (50 grams) finely minced onion
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups Japanese panko breadcrumbs
  • enough canola oil for frying
  • 4 slices of white bread
  • 6~8 pitted prunes
  • Dijon mustard


  1. PRUNE KATSU SAUCE: In a sauce pot over medium-low heat, cook minced onions with salt and olive oil, stirring often, until the onions are dark brown, caramelized and soft. Transfer the onions into a blender, along with all of the rest of the ingredients, then blend for 1 minute until smoothly pureed. Transfer back into the pot and simmer over medium-low heat (cover partially with lid to avoid splatters), stirring often, until it has reduced slightly, about 15 min. Can be made several days in advance and kept in the fridge.
  2. PREPARE MENCHI KATSU: Gently and evenly mix ground pork, finely minced onion, cornstarch, sea salt and ground white pepper together. Divide into 2 equal balls, and throw it back and forth your palms to force out any air pockets inside, then place on a piece of parchment. Form into two square patties the same size as the sliced white bread, and flash-freeze for 30 min to firm up.
  3. Place the all-purpose flour, beaten eggs, and panko breadcrumbs in three separate large containers. Season each slightly with salt and white pepper. Drench one patty in the flour, making sure it's evenly covered on every sides, then coat it evenly with beaten egg, making sure the egg is sticking to every nooks and crannies of the patty, then place the patty over the breadcrumbs. Use your hands to gently scoop the breadcrumbs over the patty to cover all surfaces, then turn the patty over and repeat, until it's completely covered and breaded. Repeat with the other patty. Leave them inside the breadcrumbs for at least 10 min for the coating to hydrate, while you heat up the oil.
  4. TO FRY AND ASSEMBLE THE SANDWICH: Add enough canola oil in a frying pot until it reaches 2"/5 cm deep. Heat over medium-high heat until it bubbles up immediately and enthusiastically around an inserted wooden chopstick. Gently lower one breaded patty (do one at a time pls) into the hot oil, then lower the heat down to medium-low. Fry until golden browned on all sides, then transfer over a cooling rack to drain. Repeat with the other patty.
  5. Let the patty cool for 10 min. Meanwhile, place pitted prunes in between 2 parchments, then with a meat-pounder, pound them until they're flattened out and broken. Trim off the sides of the white breads. On both sides of the sandwich, apply a generous smear of the katsu sauce. Then on one side, place 3~4 flattened prunes, and on the other, a little smear of Dijon mustard. Place the patty in between, then cut into 3 equal chunks. Serve immediately.
  • Aimee

    January 10, 2017 at 7:56 PM Reply

    This looks incredible

  • lieberlecker

    January 10, 2017 at 8:24 PM Reply

    Your sandwiches are just awesome, my mouth is watering again!
    Best from snowy Zurich,

  • Nanci Courtney

    January 10, 2017 at 9:18 PM Reply

    I am sitting in Pdx LUSTING for this!!!

  • Megan@Cozy Eats

    January 11, 2017 at 3:04 AM Reply

    Oh this was one of my favorite things from Japan. It reminds me of sitting on the bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto munching on a Katsu sandwich from the convenience store and sipping milk tea. Of the many things that I miss from that trip, this is at the top. Thank you, thank you for this recipe! You have me missing Japan even more now.

  • Angela

    January 11, 2017 at 6:01 AM Reply

    This looks so delicious, I lusted over these on instagram. The Katsu sauce looks like something I could make…and then eat it all with a spoon!

    Great recipe, I am salivating!

  • Pamela

    January 11, 2017 at 8:25 AM Reply

    The Katsu sauce is pure genius. The prunes are genius. I looked up a lot of Katsu sauces after reading yours. They often just list onions, tomatoes, apples and “other fruit” when they list up the fruits and veggies that they use. But I checked out their allergic ingredients list that they provided and there was believe it or not __peaches__!

    I think it would be really good to make your “minchi” patties, deep fry them and top with the sauce, loose the bread and have that for dinner with rice!! Yum!

  • Lisa George ( Fukuda)

    January 11, 2017 at 10:55 AM Reply

    Whoa, Lady… where did that prune come into play? When I could, I’ve only eaten this with good ol’ Bull dog sauce, care of Maisen. Takes me back… Thank you for sharing the recipe !

  • Ann

    January 11, 2017 at 2:26 PM Reply

    Bravo, for using the funny fruit. I love eating them, and always get geriatric remarks. Prunes and Pork go together like peas and carrots! A splash of port is always nice with those two.

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      January 11, 2017 at 3:55 PM Reply

      Ann, oh port! Great idea! Gonna do that to my next batch :) Thanks!

  • Flo @ The Flo Show

    January 11, 2017 at 4:23 PM Reply

    This is beautiful and sounds amazing. Can I use basic breadcrumbs or does it have to be the proper ones?

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      January 11, 2017 at 4:48 PM Reply

      Flo, panko breadcrumb is quite different from regular breadcrumbs. It has a more delicate texture and crunch, and normally I would say it’s not interchangeable, but in this case I guess it’s not that paramount. So go ahead and try normal breadcrumbs if you can’t find panko :)

  • george @ icookstuff

    January 11, 2017 at 7:36 PM Reply

    I’m so sure it’s wonderful because PORK & PRUNES together are wonderful … especially your cool version ! Great job … :)

  • george @ icookstuff

    January 11, 2017 at 10:28 PM Reply

    OOOPS ! i almost forgot the WELCOME BACK song from the ‘welcome back kotter’ series :

    Welcome back,
    Your dreams were your ticket out.

    Welcome back,
    To that same old place that you laughed about.

    Well the names have all changed since you hung around,
    But those dreams have remained and they’re turned around.

    Who’d have thought they’d lead ya (Who’d have thought they’d lead ya)
    Back here where we need ya (Back here where we need ya)

    Yeah we tease her a lot cause we’ve got her on the spot, welcome back,
    Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back.

    Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back.

    ps: i’m glad you’re back ! xo

  • Jennifer

    January 12, 2017 at 3:08 AM Reply

    You’re a genius. This is the way cool version of pork roast and prunes…in sandwich form. I am salivating…

  • Charlie Kwok

    January 14, 2017 at 7:20 PM Reply

    Holy damn Mandy – prunes and pork… You genius :)

  • Pablo

    January 15, 2017 at 10:50 AM Reply

    Paris here. Next thing to do tomorrow.

  • Jasmine

    February 10, 2017 at 1:16 PM Reply

    Hi Mandy,
    I made this today. It was very delicious and unique tasting! I liked the combination of the prunes and mustard in the sandwich (we smeared on Tracklements strong English mustard). I now realise why you cut it into 3’s! I just sliced the sandwich in half and had to stretch my mouth like a mamba to take a bite. If I make this again, I would likely not simmer the katsu sauce after blending, as I found it lost a little of that bright fruitiness as well as the fizzy sparkle from the cider vinegar. But perhaps cooking it helps to keep it longer? Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that my husband and I enjoyed our dinner very much. It was your photos and description that sold me on attempting this recipe as I normally steer clear of deep frying. Thank you for inventing and sharing your recipes with us!


  • Droolingforamonth

    February 23, 2018 at 2:59 AM Reply

    For katsu sauce, can i replace prunes with raisin instead? Would it be total different recipe?

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      February 23, 2018 at 11:46 AM Reply

      Droolingforamonth, raisin is much sugary and less acidic than prunes, and flavor-wise, not so similar. Maybe it would still taste delicious but it would be a different tasting sauce :)

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